The real hero of “Paradise Lost”

NEERAJ BHATT By NEERAJ BHATT, 23rd Nov 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3x.syehi/
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism

John Milton (1608-1674) towers over all his contemporaries.His conception of poetry grew fervently didactic;it was to be "doctrinal and exemplary to a nation"and "of power beside the office of a pulpit,to inbreed and cherish in a great people the seeds of virtue and public civility,to allay the perturbations of the mind,and set the affections in right tune."

The real hero of “Paradise Lost”

In “Paradise Lost “Milton makes his Satan a very impressive character and at first glance it seems that the Satan is the hero of the epic. Before declaring the name of real hero it is better to answer the question—why does Milton make Satan so impressive a character? Is it because Satan is the hero or is John Milton on Devil’s party. Satan is very powerful orator. We find his illogical speeches:
“Fallen Cherube, to be weak is miserable
Doing or suffering: but of this be sure,
To do aught good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being contrary to his high will
Whom we resist.”

There is a grand and elaborate speech of Satan:
“What though the field be lost?
All is not lost—the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?”

For Satan Hell is as good a place as Heaven. For, his mind remains unchanged by place or time:
“The mind is its own place,and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

According to classical rule a hero must possess only virtues and no vices. He is nobility incarnate. He is the embodiment of good. Here, in the case of Satan, we have a villain, a wicked creature-a spirit of evil. Satan representing badness, could not assume the role of a hero. Milton has made Satan impressive in order to bring “Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rime.” But this alone is not sufficient. Milton’s Satan symbolizes deception. He is a deceiver. Milton does not present him as a lovable hero. C.S.Lewis says “All diabolical or bad characters are impressive” The Satan of the early four books is not a diminutive. He retains some of the angelic glories.
Shakespeare’s conception of hero is different from Milton. Shakespeare’s ideal hero can sacrifice his life. He is prepared for martyrdom whereas Milton’s hero does not have to fight and exhibit, his might Christ is a true hero.
We know that the God against whom he is contending is omnipotent. The conflict is then – neither Prometheus nor farcical.
Satan admits that God is omnipotent and his revolt against Him is unjustified. He wishes that he were ordained and inferior Angel .He curses God’s love but end by cursing himself. He thinks of submission but his pride rejects it.
"Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, and then serve in Heaven."

The lamentations mingled with the macabre gloating, the horrific irony seasoned with complaint is all confessions of his inner emptiness. This vacancy is reflected in the texture of the verse.
Let us see the Satan’s argument:
“What though the field be lost ?
All is not lost—the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?”

Satan’s question is meant to be an exposure of himself and of his inability to act in any terms other than those which he enumerates.
(105-109)
Satan is only a powerful orator. He lacks powerful heroic qualities. His speeches reveal his hollowness.
“To wage by force or guile eternal Warr
Irreconcileable, to our grand Foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th’ excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heav’n.”
“Tyranny of Heaven” is part of the running satanic argument that God rules by virtue of superior force, not by reason.”Excess of joy” is sharply indicative of the state of Satan’s own mind.
Satan’s mind is diseased with the obsession of revenge. He talks of man as the favorite of Heaven and of the creation as an act of spite. He envies ‘the gentle pair.’
It is not proper to say that Satan is nothing more than a collection of abstract properties, properties which can be irresponsibly shuffled to meet the demands of varying situations.
If Satan is heroic, he is heroic in Hell. If he is melodramatic he is best so in the serene peace of Eden. Satan’s deterioration is neither continual nor consistent.
Milton knows his Satan well enough to reject him and to make the rejection a poetic fact.















In “Paradise Lost “Milton makes his Satan a very impressive character and at first glance it seems that the Satan is the hero of the epic. Before declaring the name of real hero it is better to answer the question—why does Milton make Satan so impressive a character? Is it because Satan is the hero or is John Milton on Devil’s party. Satan is very powerful orator. We find his illogical speeches:
“Fallen Cherube, to be weak is miserable
Doing or suffering: but of this be sure,
To do aught good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being contrary to his high will
Whom we resist.”
There is a grand and elaborate speech of Satan:
“What though the field be lost?
All is not lost—the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?”
For Satan Hell is as good a place as Heaven. For, his mind remains unchanged by place or time:
“The mind is …………..and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
According to classical rule a hero must possess only virtues and no vices. He is nobility incarnate. He is the embodiment of good. Here, in the case of Satan, we have a villain, a wicked creature-a spirit of evil. Satan representing badness, could not assume the role of a hero. Milton has made Satan impressive in order to bring “Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rime.” But this alone is not sufficient. Milton’s Satan symbolizes deception. He is a deceiver. Milton does not present him as a lovable hero. C.S.Lewis says “All diabolical or bad characters are impressive” The Satan of the early four books is not a diminutive. He retains some of the angelic glories.
Shakespeare’s conception of hero is different from Milton. Shakespeare’s ideal hero can sacrifice his life. He is prepared for martyrdom whereas Milton’s hero does not have to fight and exhibit, his might Christ is a true hero.
We know that the God against whom he is contending is omnipotent. The conflict is then – neither Prometheus nor farcical.
Satan admits that God is omnipotent and his revolt against Him is unjustified. He wishes that he were ordained and inferior Angel .He curses God’s love but end by cursing himself. He thinks of submission but his pride rejects it.



In “Paradise Lost “Milton makes his Satan a very impressive character and at first glance it seems that the Satan is the hero of the epic. Before declaring the name of real hero it is better to answer the question—why does Milton make Satan so impressive a character? Is it because Satan is the hero or is John Milton on Devil’s party. Satan is very powerful orator. We find his illogical speeches:
“Fallen Cherube, to be weak is miserable
Doing or suffering: but of this be sure,
To do aught good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being contrary to his high will
Whom we resist.”
There is a grand and elaborate speech of Satan:
“What though the field be lost?
All is not lost—the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?”
For Satan Hell is as good a place as Heaven. For, his mind remains unchanged by place or time:
“The mind is …………..and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
According to classical rule a hero must possess only virtues and no vices. He is nobility incarnate. He is the embodiment of good. Here, in the case of Satan, we have a villain, a wicked creature-a spirit of evil. Satan representing badness, could not assume the role of a hero. Milton has made Satan impressive in order to bring “Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rime.” But this alone is not sufficient. Milton’s Satan symbolizes deception. He is a deceiver. Milton does not present him as a lovable hero. C.S.Lewis says “All diabolical or bad characters are impressive” The Satan of the early four books is not a diminutive. He retains some of the angelic glories.
Shakespeare’s conception of hero is different from Milton. Shakespeare’s ideal hero can sacrifice his life. He is prepared for martyrdom whereas Milton’s hero does not have to fight and exhibit, his might Christ is a true hero.
We know that the God against whom he is contending is omnipotent. The conflict is then – neither Prometheus nor farcical.
Satan admits that God is omnipotent and his revolt against Him is unjustified. He wishes that he were ordained and inferior Angel .He curses God’s love but end by cursing himself. He thinks of submission but his pride rejects it.

"Here we may reign secure,and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell,then serve in Heaven."
The lamentations



















Tags

God, Heaven, Hell, Hero, Neeraj Bhatt, Paradise, Satan, Vice, Virtue

Meet the author

author avatar NEERAJ BHATT
POETRY&CULTURE
Reading poetry is my passion.

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Comments

author avatar Buzz
24th Nov 2011 (#)

Paradise lost....and regained through your great expository article, NEERAJ. Thanks for the share.

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author avatar Funom Makama
24th Nov 2011 (#)

It seems you repeated it again, but I must say it was pleasant reading it...

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author avatar Sheila Newton
24th Nov 2011 (#)

What a super article, my friend.

Now, I think it's time you showed your Wikinut friendship and commented on my pages - at least SOME of them - please?

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author avatar Madan G Singh
28th Nov 2011 (#)

Excellent write up Neeraj. I read Milton's Paradise lost in college. Great to be reminded again.

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
2nd Dec 2011 (#)

Thank you Neeraj for this very interesting page. I am so far behind with responding but I keep all my followers' pages and read as soon as I can.

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author avatar ANNA BELLA
28th Dec 2011 (#)

Thank you for your excellent write up. These type of articles are really helpful to literature students like me. It would be helpful if u write articles on 1. the procrastination of Hamlet and the reasons for his tragedy 2.critical analysis of Hamlet - Ophelia relationship

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author avatar Faiza
13th Jan 2013 (#)

very helpful

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author avatar Faiza Akram
13th Jan 2013 (#)

To the point and easy language is used.

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author avatar Pretom ghosh
6th Apr 2014 (#)

there was no uncommon things. it is not all time true that a hero is all time will be good not bad...!!! i think a villain also can be called a hero....

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author avatar Rizwan ranjha
3rd Aug 2014 (#)

i think it is your piont of view

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